Sunday, May 10, 2015

[Matt's Messages] “A Transformed People: Part Two”

“A Transformed People: Part Two”
All Roads Lead to Romans
May 10, 2015 :: Romans 12:11-12 

Let me ask you a fundamental question.

Can people change?

And I mean, for the better?

I don’t know how many times in the last month I heard someone say that someone else, sometimes it was themselves, will never change.

I almost kept a running count!

How many people have said to me in the last month that they wouldn’t change or that someone they knew wasn’t ever going to change? Or couldn’t change?

How many times did I say something like that? Well, so-and-so isn’t going to change.

Can people change?
Do people change?

Can a person go from being one kind of person to being a different kind of person? Consistently, truly, authentically?

Can people change?

Does that ever happen?

Well, the biblical answer is, “Yes, of course, they do.”

People can change.

In fact, Christ-followers must change.
Christ-followers will change.

It’s like the definition of what it means to be a follower of Christ, someone whom Jesus is changing.

Ever since, Paul started chapter 12, he’s been telling us how we need to live now that we’ve received the gospel of grace.

Verse 1 of chapter 12 said:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy [in view of the gospel of grace from first to last], to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Because of the mercies of the gospel, we are supposed to give our whole lives over to the Lord in worship. 24/7. Living sacrifices.

And as we do that, God is going to change us. He’s going to change everything about us on some level. Verse 2.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world [Don’t give in to the pressure of the world], but be transformed [changed!] 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.”

Followers of Christ can change.
In fact, followers of Christ must change.

A couple of weeks ago, we saw that that change affects our thinking. Including our thinking about ourselves. We should think of ourselves humbly, as belonging to the body of Christ, and gifted for the body of Christ.

And last week, we heard Paul start to give us these short, bullet-point messages of how we need to live, how we need to change.

We need to be a transformed people.

Last week, we read the whole thing from verses 9-21 but we just focused on verses 9 and 10.

Today, I want to read the whole thing again, verses 9-21, but we’ll just move forward two more verses, verses 11 and 12.

Of course, it is Mother’s Day.

I thought about putting Romans on the back burner for a week and doing a message simply about and for the moms among us.

But as I meditated on verses 11 and 12 this week, I saw that there was plenty here that applies directly to the Christian moms among us.

So this message is for all of us, but I think we’ll see how it applies directly for you Moms in particular.

Today, I have two main points. One to summarize verse 11 and one to summarize verse 12.

They are two ways how the people of God are to be transformed and to keep being transformed.

Number One: A Transformed People:


“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Listen to that verse in a few other English translations.

New American Standard Bible: “Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

Revised Standard Version: “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.”

English Standard Version, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

King James: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.”

Now, what King James meant by “business” was not running a business and serving customers or making products like we think of today. It meant busyness. Eagerness.  Earnestness.

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.”

That phrase, “keep your spiritual fervor” would be more woodenly translated, “in the spirit, boiling.”

In other words, keep your spiritual temperature burning on high.

Boil, boil, boil. Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble.

There should be a constant simmering of your spirit towards the Lord.

The spirit here in verse 11 could also be the Holy Spirit. Which would mean allow the Holy Spirit to be constantly burning in you.

Constantly giving over your heart to Him to change and orient you Christward.

Either way, it’s staying on fire for the Lord.

Now, is that easy?

Does that just naturally happen?

Or do we need to be transformed people for that to happen?

What does the world say?

Does the world say, “Yes, stay on fire for the Lord?”

I wish.

No, the world says, “It’s okay to be spiritually lazy.

It’s okay to let your fire die down.

It’s okay if your spirit doesn’t boil. It’s no big deal.”

But God says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Stay on fire for the Lord.

Now, how do you do that?

Well, first of you, you remember the gospel. You remember the “therefore.”

You rehearse all of the mercies of God.

Yesterday, I was in State College and I saw those huge cranes again. Those cranes have an tremendous reach and strength to them.

But they can only swing out as far as they a rooted in something deep and strong. The foundation is so important.

The gospel of GRACE is our foundation for spiritual fervor.

Anything else will be just a flash in the pan.

Have you ever tried to stay spiritually on fire some other way than the gospel?

There is no technique for staying spiritual fervent.

No 5 step plan that always works.

But in the gospel of Jesus Christ is all of the fuel you’ll need to stay on fire for the Lord.

Think about the mercies of God.

Think about the love of God.

Think about the Cross of Christ.

Think about the gift of the Spirit.

Think about your sins being forgiven.

Rehearse the truths of Romans 5 or Romans 8.

And your spirit will boil.

Now, that does not mean that you will always feel on fire for the Lord.

Don’t get up caught up in the feeling trap of trying to work up your emotions to a constant fever pitch. This isn’t saying that we should always feel excited about God.

This boil might not translate into the same emotions all of the time. Emotions come and go and go up and down. But this boil can go through them.

Notice how this spiritual fervor is worked out in practice.

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

This fire isn’t just excited worship, jumping up and down and waving your arms.

It comes out in SERVANTHOOD.

“Serving the Lord.”

Being enslaved to the Lord.

That means doing His will. It means working. It means being active in ministry.

It means serving the Lord by serving others with a servant attitude.

I saw a poster on social media last night.

It said, "How can you tell if you are a servant? How do you respond if you're treated like one?"

A transformed person is humble and is not easily offended.

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Now, how does this apply, do you think, to the Christian moms among us?

Moms, stay on fire for the Lord.

Your kids need it.

They are watching you. Whether they are 2 years old or 22 years old or 52 years old.

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Now, I’m not saying that you need to show off your spirituality to your kids. “Hey, kids, look I’m reading my Bible! Do you see me volunteering at church? I’m a good Christian mother, aren’t I?”

You don’t have to show it off. They will see it. It will seep out.

If you are spiritually boiling inside, they will feel the heat.

Your job is to be transformed. To keep feeding that fire.

I’ve told this story many times, but because it shows off my ignorance, it’s fun to tell again.

When we first got our outdoor wood burning furnace, I filled it up and then didn’t check it.

I remember when I bought the thing that the guy said that it would go 24 hours without needing filled. Of course, I bought the thing in August, and we installed it in January.

Do you think that maybe I should have checked it that first day a few times to see how it was burning?

Not I!  Not in the middle of the winter!

I still had a few things to learn. The next day, I went out there and opened the door, and it was empty inside. In fact, there were what I thought were icicles inside of my firebox.

My fire had gone out because I wasn’t filling it. I had gotten lazy from the start.

And we had to start all over again.

Stay on fire for the Lord.

What do you need to do today to rekindle that fire or kick it up a notch?

Perhaps you just need to pray. To repent, to ask for forgiveness for spiritual laziness and put yourself back on that living sacrificial altar once again.

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Number Two. A transformed people...


“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Do you see why I say, “Stay on track.”

All three of those imperatives are to keep on keeping on, even when it’s hard.

“Be joyful in hope...”

So, that means to rejoice even when things aren’t going well.

When you have to rely on your hope for the future, not your present situation to give you joy.

Rejoice even when things aren’t going well because you know that one day they will.

Stay on track with joy in hope.

“Patient in affliction.”

That word “patient” is Pastor Alex Ielase’s Greek word for us.

Anybody remember what it is?


Patience or endurance or perseverance.

This is stick-to-it-iveness.

Even when times are tough. Affliction. Trial. Tribulation. Difficulty.

Hanging on.

A transformed person hangs in faith even when times are tough.

Is that easy?

No, it’s hard. And it doesn’t come naturally.

What does the world say?

“It’s okay to give up.
It’s okay to give in.
It’s okay to roll over.
It’s too hard for you.”

But God says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Stay on track with the Lord.

Keep on keeping on.

Even when it’s hard.

Does anybody see how this applies to being a Christian mom?

I thought you would.

I’ve read this to you before on Mother’s Day, but it never grows old for me.

It’s an article by Stephen Altrogge entitled, “How to Simulate Motherhood.”

On occasion I have heard people who do not have children make a comment along the following lines: “What exactly do moms do all day?” Behind the question lies the impression that most mothers sit around all day on bean bags, eating Skittles and reading the latest issue of Real Simple. But nothing could be further from the truth.

So, for all of you who have wondered what it is like to be a mom, here are some simple things you can do to simulate motherhood.

1. Carry around a 30 pound sack of flour all day. Do not, I repeat, do NOT set the sack of flour on the ground for any reason. If you do, the sack will immediately begin screaming.

2. Place a large industrial fan in your kitchen. At every meal, make sure to dump at least one full plate of food directly into the fan. This works especially well with Cheerios and peas.

3. Go to the local pet shop and purchase two howler monkeys. Take the howler monkeys home and release them into your house.

4. Try to hold an intelligent conversation or do a craft with the howler monkeys.

5. While carrying the sack around and taking care of the howler monkeys, make sure to read your Bible and pray.

And those are the easy parts of being a Christian Mom!

That says nothing about whether the howler monkeys grow up to disappoint you.

Or to reject your Lord.

Or contract a grave illness or have some other problem that puts you into a bind.

Moms, be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

You need it. Your kids need it.

Stay on track with the Lord.

That last one is so important. “Faithful in prayer.”

That doesn’t come naturally. That requires transformation. That requires change.

Nobody is naturally faithful in prayer.

That is work of grace.

It comes easier to some than others, but anyone whose life is marked by faithful prayer is someone whom God has graced.

Don’t give up.
Don’t give in.

Keep praying.

Be steadfast, immovable. Stand firm. Keep praying.

What changes do you need to make in your life starting today to stay on track withthe Lord in this way?

What would be the first step?

For some of you, it would be trust Jesus in the first place.

You can’t be transformed by the gospel until you’ve believed the gospel.

Some of you probably need to call upon the Lord for salvation.

Confess with your mouth that Jesus is your Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.

And then stick to Him no matter what. Come hell or high water, no matter what.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Is that possible?

Can we change so that verse 12 characterizes our lives?

Yes, indeed.

I’m thankful to have been a witness to significant change in people’s lives in the last month.

I told you last week about an older fellow on that retreat I went to who had a change of heart and of tongue last weekend.

This week, I met with two younger guys who are changing in other ways.

One it’s what he’s listening to. He no longer listens to or even wants to listen to raunchy music, but is filling his ears and mind with good, solid, healthy stuff.

Another one is changing what he’s reading. And he’s getting serious about studying his Bible.

Followers of Christ can change and must change and will change.

That’s what we do.

If you don’t change all, if you aren’t changing all, maybe you aren’t following Christ at all.

We are called to be a transformed people, transformed by the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.

Staying on fire for the Lord and staying on track with the Lord.

Because of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Messages in this Series:

01. All Roads Lead to Romans
02. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
03. The Bad News
04. Hope for Holy Sexuality
05. The Even Worse News
06. The Worst News
07. Justified
08. Father Abraham
09. The Blessings of Justification
10. How Much More
11. New You
12. Slaves Of...?
13. A Life-Changing Relationship with Jesus Christ
14. No Condemnation
15. If the Spirit Lives in You
16. The Spirit of Sonship
17. We Know
18. For Us
19. Who?
20. God's Word Has Not Failed
21. Israel Stumbled
22. God Raised Him From the Dead
23. God Always Keeps His Promises
24. Therefore
25. How to Think of Yourself
26. A Transformed People (Part One)