Tuesday, September 11, 2012

walking through the gospel: the transforming power of the gospel

Today we are in week 10 of walking through the Gospel- a study of why we believe what we believe about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Studying the Scriptures about God brings Him to life, and when we know Him, we can't help but worship and fall in love with the one true and living God!

This series arose from a post called the unlost generation {quite possibly the hardest post I've ever written here on the blog}. It was a scary day when I knew God wanted me to share it, because it was such a difficult thing to say. 

But God is so funny. After I posted it in tears and with great heaviness, I was blown away because the response was incredible.

So many people said that they wanted to love Him and know Him with all their heart, but they knew that's not what they were experiencing. So many of you wanted to know more about how to fall in love with God.

Our God knows what He is doing, doesn't He? 

It seems we have a great desire for God, but sometimes it's hard to know where to start, isn't it? There's so much out there that it's hard to simply grasp the basics.  And falling in love with God isn't something you can just do on your own, either- the Holy Spirit gives you that love when you seek after Him.

That's why I wanted to share this series with you- together we are going through the basics: the story of God and man- and why we need God, and what He has done for us. When you see God for who He is, you start to understand how desperately you need Him, and you begin to feel so very grateful that He loves you so much to save you! 

And I think that's the place where God brings you to start wanting to seek Him with all your heart.

It's the most amazing thing! I hope that you are starting to feel what God has done for you, and see His great love and sacrifice He has given you! :) It transforms your life in every way.

Here are just a few ways that the Gospel {believing in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus and then living for Him} transforms your life:

1. The Gospel allows us to respond graciously to others with love.

When you believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit now dwells in you! You leave behind the ways you used to walk in, and you become a new person. This is what we call conversion. You are converted from your old ways to the new life in Jesus.

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.

When the Holy Spirit lives in you, He changes your heart to live for Him instead of for yourself, and you can respond to others in ways that show them God has given you a new heart. :)

Ezekiel 36:26
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Remember the sharpie situation from last week? Our natural sinful response to being wronged is to react in anger and/or vengeance. But when the Holy Spirit enters your heart, He starts to overcome your natural, fleshly response!

Here's what life in the Spirit starts to look like: you see the sharpie, you feel the anger rising in your chest, but instead of doing what you feel like doing- immediately yelling- you breathe, and you realize you need to pray for God's help because you so want to lose it {that's the Holy Spirit telling you to pray, by the way}.

You pray something like, "Jesus, I need your help. I'm so angry right now. So angry. I need you to calm my spirit, and keep me from sinning and saying something really ugly. God, I know that everything has a reason, and I shouldn't care so much about stuff. Please help me, Lord. Overcome my anger. Please help me to be patient, because I don't feel patient right now."

And then suddenly, your blood pressure starts to fall back down, and somehow, God gives you the ability to speak to the culprit with calmness and you even forgive them for doing it. And after it's over, you know it was God, because you really wanted to let it out, you know what I mean? That's how amazing God is! He transforms your heart and your life.

His Spirit transforming us allows us to love others. The Gospel at work in our heart allows us to let go of vengeance, and do good to our enemies. 

2. The Gospel allows us to love others through our actions {a.k.a. our "works"}.

Through His Spirit, I can forgive when I would've still been angry. I can love when I am hurt. I can hold my tongue when I want to spit back ugliness. This is God- doing things in us that we can't understand or do on our own! It's grace at work. It's the power of the Gospel in our lives.

When we believe and follow Jesus, we obey His commands. Over and over and over again, the Bible says, if we love Jesus we will obey Him. Obeying Him doesn't mean following a list of do and don'ts, it means letting God transform our life from the inside to the outside. From our heart to our actions.

Obedience is loving our God and our neighbor more than ourselves. Obedience is loving God with all our heart, and putting down our idols - the things we care more about than God {pride, money, success, self-image, entertainment, obsessions, etc.}.

Obedience is following Jesus, and loving the unloved. Visiting the sick, caring for the orphans, putting the needs of others before ourselves. Serving instead of being served. But it's not about the checklist- because everyone's opportunities to love and serve will be different. 

It's about the heart of the matter- seeking God with everything you have, and letting go of earthly treasures. This is the power of the Gospel at work in our lives. Jesus has overcome the world- He can take any of your problems or idols- you just have to give them to Him.

When your friends, your family, or even just acquaintances see this crazy change happen in your life,  they see the power of God at work in your heart. Isn't that amazing?

That's how you share the Gospel with others- you live it out, you don't just talk about it. :)

3. The Gospel allows us to face trials with hope.

This is one of the most amazing ways that the Holy Spirit changes our life. When we face a horrible trial- like the attacks that happened 11 years ago today, or the death of a child, or the loss of a husband, or the betrayal of a friend, we are able to face it with the power of God.

When a normal person would lose hope, a believer has hope because of the promises of God, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. It is incredible to see the peace of God in a person under trial. It's unreal. And it's so beautiful to see.

Trials in the life of a believer shouldn't come as a surprise. They will happen. But we have a Comforter, and a Healer that works through our pain and brings us even closer to Him. When we face hard things in this life, we know that they are nothing in comparison to the power and knowledge and plan of our God.  And we know that Jesus suffered here in the flesh too- so we aren't alone in our suffering.

1 Peter 4:12-13,19
12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 

19Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

When we face a trial, we know that all things work together for the good of those who believe. It's not something that makes sense at all, but the things that happen in our life are part of God's plan. There is nothing He doesn't control, my friends. We can trust Him.

Romans 8:28
28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,g for those who are called according to his purpose.

side note: If you have a believing friend that's facing a trial, I think the best thing you can do is to pray for them constantly- that they would have comfort and peace that passes all understanding. I'm not sure that our talking does much good when bad things happen- I think that hurting with them, while listening and praying may be the best way to encourage a friend that is suffering. If you've been on the suffering side, would you agree? 

It's so hard to see the good that God has in our trials- and sometimes I think we might not see the good in it until we get to Heaven. But faith under trial is even more evidence to the world that we truly believe in Jesus. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! Oh, what a God we serve!

Walking with our Savior changes our life forever. When we believe, we can endure trials, we can show the world Christ's love through our actions, and we can become more and more like Jesus. It's sounds too good to be true, but it's not. It's all too real.

And it's beautiful. Because He is beautiful. Redeeming the lost, healing the hurt, restoring the broken to joy. This is grace upon grace upon grace, sweet friends. He heaps it on us. He mercifully changes our messed up heart to look more and more like His own.

Oh, I long for you to know the true and living God who brings life to your heart, and change to your whole life. I can't imagine life without Him.

Thank you Jesus, for bringing new life to broken and sinful hearts.

Do you know His grace? Have you seen Him working in your heart to transform you? Please share with us and tell us of His goodness in your life! :D

next week: 
seeking God's will in our lives


previous posts in the wttg series:

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