Wave of Change" part 3
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 4, 2009
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we
are changed into his glorious image.
far in this series -- Riding the Wave of Change -- we’ve talked about
the major changes that come our way when we make a major life decision
or when we encounter those milestones in life… like when we get
married, or have kids, or change jobs, or start at a new school, or
move to a new city. Those changes that we have some control over or we
expect them to happen. But sometimes they can through us for a loop,
and so we talked about how we can keep our balance when we go through
those kinds of change.
We moved on from that to talk about the
unexpected unwelcome changes in life. The storms that come our way, the
tragedies we encounter, the difficulties that life throws at us, and we
talked about how we can embrace God and cling to His promise to be with
us and to bring us through those storms.
If you missed either of
those messages, you can read them on our website. But today, we’re
getting personal. We’re not talking about the circumstances of life
that change, we’re talking about how we change when God works in our
So grab a pen, pull out your notes, and let’s get going. The first and
the biggest change is that…
The Changes God Works in My Life:
God changes who I am
you are before you come to faith in Jesus, you are changed from the
inside out by the cleansing and redemptive work of God in your life.
I’d like to ask any children under the age of 12 to join me here at the
SERMON IN A SACK – BUTTERFLY
This is a butterfly… or at least a toy that looks like a butterfly.
What do you know about butterflies?
TALK WITH KIDS ABOUT BUTTERFLIES
you know that a butterfly was not always a butterfly? No, a butterfly
starts out as a caterpillar. So what happens? Well, the caterpillar
spins a cocoon which completely surrounds the caterpillar, and over
time the caterpillar changes into a butterfly. Take a look at this
VIDEO of transformation into butterfly
pretty quick in that video, but really this change from a caterpillar
to a butterfly a while longer than that. But do you know what it’s
called, when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly? It’s called a
metamorphosis. It comes from an old Greek word… another language… and
it’s the word is metamorphoo. And when that word is translated into
English, it becomes the word “change” or “transform”. Check out this
verse from the Bible…
Romans 12:2 (NLT)
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.
what does this verse tell us? It tells us that just as a caterpillar is
changed or transformed into a butterfly, God transforms us from who we
used to be into the person He made us to be. He makes us into more
loving, more caring, more compassionate, more godly people.
Help me out with these words…
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and
That’s how God changes who we are. He builds these qualities into our
lives. Okay, you can go have a seat. Thanks for your help.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we
are changed into his glorious image.
that word metamorphoo again. God is transforming us so that His
character is reflected in who we are. We become more Christ-like. And
the Apostle Paul sums this whole transformation up this way…
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
that’s the primary way that God changes us. He changes who we are,
giving us a new life and making us more like Him in our character,
values, desires, and priorities.
God changes how I interact with others
if not all of us are born with the desire to be admired, to be
important, to puff ourselves up… and so often, it’s at the expense of
other people. In other words, in order to prop ourselves up we push
others down. To make ourselves look better, we make others look worse.
And so we go through life, promoting our own self-interest. If
investing in someone else also helps us, then great. We’re fine with
that. But it’s always built on the foundation of “what’s in it for me?”
we’re really concerned about ourselves, not about other people. Oh, we
may learn to love a select few. We may sincerely care for our family
and a few close friends. And there are heroes who really do put the
needs of others ahead of themselves.
But as a general rule, we tend to be pretty selfish and self-absorbed.
especially if we don’t get along with someone or we’ve had a
disagreement, we have no qualms about gossiping about them, slandering
them, tearing them down, belittling them… Again, we want to look good,
we want to be right, we want our egos stroked… And so it’s accepted and
almost expected in our society that you’re going to be looking out for
number one, at the expense of all others.
Oh, we’ve learned to
do that in covert, not-so-obvious ways, but we still do it. But it’s
not the way God intends for His people to operate.
And so He
teaches us what it means to live in relationship with other people. He
shows us what it means to live in community. He welcomes us to come
together in His family… He changes the way we interact with other
people, to the point that we’re no longer primarily concerned about
“what’s in it for me,” and instead we’re actually able to put others
ahead of ourselves.
So really, this is about a change of
attitude. Our interaction with others changes from a position of pride
to a position of humility.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)
selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as
better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but
take an interest in others, too.
And let me tell you, humility
is not about tearing yourself down. I don’t know where we ever got the
idea that being humble meant we have an inferiority complex. No,
humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself
Jesus was humble. But He never denied who He was, He never
belittled Himself, He never suffered from low self-esteem. What He DID
do, was put the needs of others ahead of himself. That’s what it meant
for Jesus to be humble, and He sets the standard of humility for us.
how does this play out? How are our relationships with others really
changed because we are followers of Christ? Well, let’s take a look at
a few different passages…
The first one is from a chapter in the
Bible known as the Love Chapter. You hear this read at weddings all the
time, but really it’s not about marriage. It’s about how we treat each
other and serve each other and love each other.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no
record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but
rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses
faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
That’s a pretty good standard for how we can interact with each other.
Or how about this…
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is
helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may
benefit those who listen.
So what are your conversations like? Are they positive and uplifting,
or are they negative and destructive?
changes how you interact with others… that includes your attitudes,
your words, and your actions… how you treat each other when you’re
together and when you’re apart… whether you’re talking about other
Christ-followers who are part of the Church or those outside the
Church. God changes how you interact with others.
God changes my outlook on life
deal with this one fairly quickly, but I want to show you the passage
that, to me, best expresses how God changes my outlook:
Philippians 4:4,6-7 (NLT)
be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!… Don’t worry about
anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and
thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace,
which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your
hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And remember, when
the Apostle Paul wrote those words, he was sitting in a Roman prison…
possibly even a prison that doubled as a sewer. So he wasn’t exactly in
his “happy place” when he said “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I
say it again—rejoice!”
So look at it… you can see how Paul’s outlook on life and on his
circumstances changed because of what God had done in his life.
[PowerPoint highlights different words]
Instead of despair, he had an outlook of joy.
Instead of worry, he had an outlook of trust… that God was with Him and
would provide for his needs.
Instead of contempt or anger, he had an outlook of gratitude.
Instead of living in fear, Paul had an outlook of peace… a peace that
can only come from God.
And instead of gloom about his situation and about his future, he had
an outlook of hope.
God changes my purpose in life
back in the 1640’s, over in England, a group of English and Scottish
Church scholars got together and produced a few different documents
which are considered by many to be the greatest contribution to come
out of the English Reformation.
These documents later influenced
John Wesley and the Wesleyan Revival, which in turn led to the spread
of Methodism and the First Great Awakening here in North America, and
so in a way prepared the way for us here at Sunrise.
So even though we don’t use these documents here at Sunrise, they are
part of our heritage.
of these documents is known as the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which
is essentially a series of 107 doctrinal questions and answers, used
primarily to teach children and people new in their faith. And there
are still churches today who present a Bible to child who is able to
answer all 107 questions in one sitting.
And the very first question is one that you may be familiar with
already. It asks…
Q. What is the chief end of man?
Anyone know the answer?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
in saying that God changes our purpose to this… well, that’s not
entirely true. The truth is, that’s always been our purpose. It’s just
that at one point of time, we perhaps didn’t know or didn’t understand
that. So technically, I’m not correct in saying that God changes our
purpose. Really, He simply makes us aware of it.
But from our
perspective, it is a change. Because we used to think our purpose was
to be happy, to be rich, to have a family, to be successful, to conquer
the Nintendo Wii… whatever it was for you. But when you come to faith
in Jesus, God begins to work in your life and you come to realize that
really, your purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
2 Corinthians 5:9 (NIV)
So we make it our goal to please Him...
what does it mean to glorify God? What does it mean to please Him? Yes,
it means we praise Him with our music. It means we honour Him when we
come together as His Church. It means we serve Him faithfully.
I think it’s a bit broader than that. I think our purpose is to glorify
God each and every day, in every thing we do and every word we say. I
think it means we glorify Him in our thoughts, in our attitudes, in
every part of life.
Romans 12:1a (Msg)
“Take your everyday,
ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around
life—and place it before God as an offering.”
That’s the purpose
we come to realize as Christ-followers… to glorify God. To please Him.
To live in such a way that He smiles at you, gives you the thumbs up,
and says, “Good job.”
God changes my heart for those far from Him
talked about this here many times before. As a church, one of our
primary purposes is to connect with people who are far from God and
point them toward Him. That’s one of the reasons we’re in the mall…
because this location alone provides us with an opportunity to connect
with people. When I’m here through the week, there are people who stop
by with questions about the Church or about what we believe, or who are
looking for answers, or are looking for prayer. Just last week, in one
morning, I had two women stop by who are going through divorces. One of
them is already a Christ-follower, the other one is investigating God
as a result of what she’s going through. She’s looking for answers.
She’s looking for God. And we are here for people like that.
part of our DNA as a Church… caring for those who are far from God,
trying to connect with them, with the hope of bringing them into
relationship with Him.
But I believe God wants that to be part
of our DNA as individuals, too. To the point that we’ll go out of our
way, we’ll make sacrifices, we’ll give up our preferences, we’ll even
step out of our comfort zone in order to connect to people who are far
from God and represent Jesus to them. Jesus said about Himself…
Luke 19:10 (NLT)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
And He passed that mission on to His followers then and now when He
Matthew 4:19 (NLT)
“Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”
when I was in college, the pastor of the largest Protestant Church this
side of Montreal came to speak to my class. And he talked about how he
didn’t like everything that happens at his church. In particular, the
music wasn’t his style, it’s not what he grew up with, it’s not what he
prefers… but he was okay with that because he knew the church wasn’t
about making him feel good. Unlike most organizations, the Church
exists for those who aren’t part of it yet. So he was willing to set
aside his preferences because he saw the potential of the music they
were using for connecting with people far from God.
2 Corinthians 5:18, 20 (NLT)
God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. … So we are
Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.
some people have what’s called the spiritual gift of evangelism. And
they see a lot of positive results as they connect with people far from
God. I personally don’t have that gift. And truthfully, I see some but
limited response when I share my faith. But just because I don’t have
that gift doesn’t let me off the hook. I still represent Jesus to the
people I come into contact with, and God has changed my heart and is
continuing to change my heart so I can see them as He does. And how
does He see them?
Matthew 9:36 (NLT)
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were
confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Luke 19:41 (NLT)
But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to
how Jesus sees those who are far from God. He sees them as lost, as
heading for a Christ-less eternity, and He cares so deeply for them
that it moves Him to tears. And I believe He wants to change us as a
church and as individuals until that kind of compassion is the cry of
our heart, too.
God changes my destiny
truth is, because of our rebellion against God as human beings, we are
all born with the stain of sin and are therefore destined for a Godless
eternity in Hell. That’s not where God’s sending us; that’s where we’re
already going because of our sin… because of our rebellion against God
and the ways of God.
But God loves us too much to leave us like
that. That’s why Jesus came and gave up His life on the cross… so that
He could take our place and pay the penalty for our sinfulness, and so
instead of eternal death we can look forward to eternal life with Him
Romans 6:23 (NLT)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
then, because of Jesus, we who are followers of Jesus have a brand new
destiny. We have a fresh start and a future hope. Paul understood this.
2 Corinthians 5:1 (NLT)
For we know that when this
earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave
this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body
made for us by God himself and not by human hands.
Colossians 3:1,4 (NLT)
you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the
realities of heaven… And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to
the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
when He knew His time on earth was almost over… that He would soon be
arrested, falsely accused and convicted of crimes He didn’t commit, and
publicly executed on a cross… When He knew all that was about to come
down, He told His followers…
John 14:1-3 (NLT)
your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is
more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I
have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When
everything is ready, I will come and get you…”
That was a
promise to His followers that day and it’s a promise to us today. Jesus
will come again, and when He does, what a great destiny He has in store
for those of us who have chosen to be His followers.
are here and you’ve never made that choice, then why not make that
choice today? Why not today begin that new life that can only be found
in a relationship with Jesus? Why not allow God to change you from the
inside out, make you the person you were meant to be, and guarantee you
a future home with Him in Heaven?
If you’d like to make that
choice today, then it’s simple to get started. All you need to do is
decide to follow Him and live for Him. In fact, you can get started by
just praying a simple prayer. You can pray something like this…
thank you for dying for me. Thank you for caring that deeply for me.
Thank you for offering me forgiveness for all my sins and a brand new
start in life. I’m sorry that I’ve ignored you and tried to go it on my
own; today I’m choosing to go Your way. I want to follow you from this
moment on. Teach me what it means to live for you.
this morning, we sang a new song that talks about how God changes our
lives to the point that all we live for is Jesus. And the greatest
thing we look forward to is someday going to be with Him in Heaven. I’m
going to ask the band to come on back up and we’re going to sing that
song again, along with a few other songs about living for Jesus…