Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition part 3:
Renovation
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 19, 2006

 

Main Passage: Philippians 2:12-18 (NLT)


Well, the results are in. We’re just a few weeks removed from Halloween, and I can now tell you what the most popular costumes were this year. Let’s begin with costumes for children…

Top Children's Costumes 2006

1. Princess (generic) 11.5%
2. Pirate 5.0%
3. Witch 4.8%
4. Spider-Man 4.4%
5. Superman 3.7%


Top Adults' Costumes 2006

1. Witch 17.5%
2. Pirate 3.7%
3. Vampire (generic) 3.7%
4. Cat 2.6%
5. Clown 1.8%
[From http://www.snopes.com/holidays/halloween/topcostumes.asp]

Those were the most popular costumes. Here are a few more that I personally liked…

[POWERPOINT]

We actually had a lot of interesting costumes show up at our front door this Halloween. We had 50 people! Of course, the worst part of that is that there weren’t as many leftovers. We have a split entry in our home, and Shera was working that night, so I spent the evening running up and down the stairs.

Of course, that was just for one night. And after that, all the kids in the neighbourhood went back to looking as normal as they ever looked. Oh, maybe some melted chocolate around their mouths, but pretty normal. Because that’s the way it works. Halloween comes once a year and then you put the costumes away.

Well, at least most do. But there is one segment of the population that tends to keep their costume on. They feel like they have to look a certain way and pretend to be something they’re not. And there have been times when I’ve found myself right there among them. There have been times that I’ve thought to myself… maybe not consciously, but I’ve thought this… “I’m a Christian. I have to look like a Christian. I have to hide my flaws, I have to talk a certain way, I have to put on a happy face, I have to project this false front… I have to put on the Christian costume and impress everyone with my religiosity.”

How about you? Have you ever felt the pressure to do that? Have you ever felt frustrated with how cheap and superficial and shallow that can be? Have you ever felt guilty about it? Have you ever felt disillusioned by it and wondered if it was all worth it? Have you ever felt like you couldn’t pull off the façade any longer and so maybe you should just quit? Have you ever felt like a hypocrite?

Do you know where that word “hypocrite” comes from? It comes from ancient Greece (hey, I have some of that under my kitchen counter. Ancient Grease). In ancient Greek society, the theatre was extremely important. And they would put on these huge plays in large amphitheatres. The actors didn’t have microphones to make their voices heard, and they didn’t have cameras to magnify their images onto screens, so they invented their own system. They developed big masks that you could see from a long ways away.

The masks made them look like the characters they portrayed. And built into the masks were megaphones to amplify their voices. So the actors got on stage, got behind their masks and they became somebody else… someone different than they really were. In Greek, this play-acting was called hypocrisis, from which we get our word hypocrisy. Those actors were not what they appeared to be. They claimed to be one thing but in reality were another.

Of course, it’s not just Christians who struggle with this. There are lots of people who pretend to be something they’re not and who try to look a certain way. I saw on the news this week that breast implants have gone up 37% in just the past five years. People are so concerned with looking a certain way before others.

Now, I’m not saying that appearances don’t matter, because they do. Even I brushed my hair this morning. I ironed my shirt, I shaved, I brushed my teeth… But what I want to propose to you this morning is this… it’s in your notes…
 

The Makeover God wants to work in your life is not a cosmetic cover-up, it’s a heart transformation.
 

It’s not about what you do, it’s who you are.
It’s not about what you say, it’s why you say it.
It’s not about where you go, it’s why you live.
And this makeover does not begin on the outside, it begins on the inside.

But don’t just take my word for it; take God’s Word for it. This is what He tells us in His Word…

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Circle the words “in you”. What God’s doing “in you” changes your actions, not the other way around. Let’s look at another verse… we’ve looked at this one before…

Romans 8:29 (NLT)
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son…

God didn’t choose you just to ACT like His Son. He chose you to BECOME like His Son. Circle that word. So again, it’s not a superficial thing… it’s a complete makeover. The Bible says you become a “new creation”. It’s not a cosmetic cover-up, it a heart transformation.

1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT)
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.

You don’t just change a few habits. You don’t just edit your vocabulary. You don’t just add a few good deeds to your schedule. God makes you a new person, from the inside out. Because, understand this…

You don’t change the inside by changing the outside; you change the outside by changing the inside.

You get that? What you do doesn’t change who you are. But who you are certainly changes what you do. And God understands that. Hey, He made us that way.

In fact, when you try to do it the opposite way… when you try to change the outside before you’re changed on the inside… what happens? You become judgmental, you become bitter, you become frustrated, you become hypocritical. And there’s more than enough of that in this world – there’s more than enough of that in churches – already. So as for you, you count on God to transform you on the inside, and then you allow that to change how you live on the outside. Okay?

Now, is it too early to talk about Christmas? Is it okay to mention Christmas and Halloween in the same message? I’m not sure I’m allowed to do that… there may be rules against it… But I think I’ll risk it.

How many of you have seen “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”? For those of you who haven’t, where have you been? How could you not have seen the Grinch? Well, I’m going to talk a bit about it, and if you haven’t seen it I hope I don’t ruin it for you. But hey, the cartoon’s been out for 40 years this year. So I think you’ve had your opportunity. [Book – 1957, Cartoon – 1966, Movie – 2000]

In the story, do you remember how much the Grinch hated Christmas? And do you remember how much he hated it when other people celebrated Christmas… particularly the Whos who lived in Whoville? So what did he do about it? He dressed up like Santa Claus and go into the town and steal all the things that were associated with Christmas.

Now, he dressed up like Santa. But did he become like Santa? No, of course not. The changes were only superficial. Even though his appearance was different, he was still the same mean, ol’ Grinch on the inside. But do you remember what happened at the end? Let me show you…

VIDEO CLIP - How the Grinch Stole Christmas

What made the difference? It was a heart transformation. It wasn’t the clothes he wore. His heart grew 3 sizes that day. That’s what made the difference.

Okay, so we’re talking about a heart-transformation. What do you think of when you hear the word, “heart”?

If I say you’ve got a lot of heart, what does that mean? It means you’re passionate.
If you put your heart into something, what does that mean? It means you’re devoted.
If you give someone your heart, it means you love them.
If we go to the heart of the matter, we’re going to the very core.

Basically, when we talk about heart, we’re talking about every that makes you, you.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
(“sanctify” = be made like Jesus; be made holy)

Not just in the things you do, not just in the things you say, but “through and through.”

So how does this happen? How do you undergo this heart transformation? Well, it’s really not all that complicated. In fact, it’s pretty simple. It’s simple to understand. It can be difficult to enact, but it’s simple to understand. So let me explain it to you in three simple steps.

 

Three Steps to Heart Transformation:

1. Give God permission to change you.

You’ve got to decide if you really want this heart transformation to happen and if you do, then give God permission to do it. Because God’s a gentleman. He’s not going to force Himself on you if you don’t want Him. If you choose to reject Him and His ways, then He’ll respect that decision. You will have to face the consequences of that decision, but it’s a decision you’re free to make.

And it’s not a new decision that people are faced with today. 3000 years ago, King David was confronted with an area of sin and weakness in his own life. He had done some pretty bad things. He had even committed adultery and then arranged for the woman’s husband to be killed so that he could her for himself. And it all came from a heart of selfishness and lust. And David realized that it needed to be changed. And he knew he couldn’t do it on his own. So this became his prayer… he repented for what he had done, and then he prayed…

Psalm 51:10 (NLT)
Create in me a clean heart, O God.

Is that the prayer you need to pray today? A prayer that gives God permission to change you? Wouldn’t be a bad prayer for each one of us every day, would it?

 

2. Cooperate with what God is doing in you.

You see, here’s the key: You can’t change yourself. Only God can perform this heart transformation. He created you in the first place, and He’s more than capable of re-creating you. But again, He’s not going to do it without your permission and your cooperation.

I mentioned earlier that these steps are simple but not always easy. This is probably where it gets toughest. Because sometimes, even when we want God to change us, we don’t really want to change. You know? We like our sin too much. And we don’t like the tension that change brings. We don’t like that period of discomfort or struggle or even failure that often accompanies change.

And so we give up and we refuse to go along with it. We fight against what God’s trying to do in us. We just don’t cooperate.

But the better approach would be to say, “God, I know this won’t always be easy. I know that change can be difficult, and even painful. But I want to cooperate with you as best as I know how. Because I know that You want what’s best for me, and I know I can trust You. So show me where You’re working in my life, and show me how I can cooperate with what You’re doing.”

In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, there’s a prayer where someone says…

Isaiah 64:8 (NLT)
We are the clay, and you are the potter.

What’s that saying? It’s saying, “God, You’re in charge. You form me and transform Me as You see fit.” Is that the prayer you need to pray today?

 

3. Allow the inner changes to be expressed outwardly.

This is where the things you do and the things you say and the places you go… this is where those become important. They don’t precede the heart transformation, they’re a natural outflow of the heart transformation. The Bible says…

Luke 6:45 (CEV)
Good people do good things because of the good in their hearts. Bad people do bad things because of the evil in their hearts.

So for better or for worse, what’s on the inside is what becomes expressed outwardly. And that means that if God is performing a heart transformation in you, and if you’re cooperating with it, then it’s going to impact the way you live. But this time, there’s not going to be the feeling of hypocrisy. There’s not going to be the dissonance or the conflict between what you do and what you really are. You’ll be able to live with integrity… with oneness… with wholeness.

 

So there you go. Three simple steps. And the beauty of it is, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a Christian; these three steps apply. If you’re a brand new believer, then you need to give God permission to work in your life, cooperate with what He’s doing, and start to put it into practice. If you’ve been a Christian for five years, you’ve got to give God permission, cooperate with Him, and put it into practice. If you’ve been living for Jesus for fifty years, same thing. Give permission, cooperate, and put it into practice.

See… I told you this would be simple. There’s nothing revolutionary here. But it will be revolutionary for you.

These three steps can be enacted in your life every day for the rest of your life. And don’t feel like you have to get ahead of the game. You don’t have to pretend that God has already perfected you in every area of your life. Be honest with where you’re at right now, and keep pressing on… giving permission, cooperating, and putting into practice.

The apostle Paul understood this. He was Superman in the early Church. Hey, he wrote half of the books in our New Testament. He’s someone that you’d almost expect to have it all together. But what did he say? Well, he wrote about spiritual maturity and about experiencing the full power of Jesus in your life, and then he said…

Philippians 3:12 (NLT)
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

So this heart transformation that we’re talking about is a continual thing. It’s the work of God in your life every day of your life. Sometimes He’s performing minor changes, sometimes major changes. Sometimes easy, sometimes hard. Sometimes the changes happen over a period of time, sometimes they happen rather quick, almost instantaneous.

But God always has more for you. He’ll continually make you more like His Son, and that’s a wonderful thing. Just give God permission to work in you, cooperate with what He’s doing, and then don’t fight it – allow the changes to take effect and impact the way you live.

And what you will discover is that the makeover God wants to work in your life is not a cosmetic cover-up, it a heart transformation.
 

Can you imagine how your life would be different if you would consistently do these three simple things? Can you imagine the changes? Can you imagine feeling free from hypocrisy – that “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality? You know, putting on those masks and pretending to be something you’re not?

How would it be different if you could just say, “You know, I’m flawed. But God’s working in me, and little by little as I cooperate with what He’s doing, this will change – I will change. Everyday I’m becoming more and more like the person He made me to be. I’m becoming more like His Son.”
 

Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to sing a song that simply expresses a desire for God to take us and shape us, mould us and transform us, according to His plan. We’re going to sing it, and then I’m going to pray. But I’d encourage you to use this song as your prayer. Okay?


Song – “The Potter’s Hand”

 

 

 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2006 SunriseOnline.ca