“ For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
Every January seems to begin with the same repeating pattern. After a season of excessive eating, rest and relaxation, it’s time to dust off the running shoes and begin to trim back the new Santa body shape and rediscover my fit, inner, 22-year-old self! Of course, it always begins with great hope and expectation, “I’ll soon be back to my fighting weight!” The reality, however, is often painfully different. Remaining committed to the new me becomes harder each year. The edifying bland food becomes less palatable, slow improvements in fitness levels erode my confidence leading to the conclusion that I will never reach my goals. Eventually, football matches on TV seem to be my best hope of remaining connected to my sporting ambitions.
Transforming our bodies is difficult but transforming our inner being is impossible! We worship a holy, perfect, sinless, righteous God. We are made in His image, yet so often, when I take stock of my inner man, I must sadly accept that I’m not quite who God designed me to be. Perhaps you have experienced this crushing reality in your own life? Have you previously committed to a new year’s resolution? Did you expect that this time next year you would be just like Jesus? I’m sure that my experience is not unique. Sadly, after a few days of human effort, as one’s resolve cracks and one’s desire fades, we all discover that inner transformation cannot be achieved through external or behavioural modifications.
Thank goodness that our transition from worldliness to godliness is in the hands of one higher than ourselves. The Father is committed to transforming you from being a person who blends perfectly into the secular world to being a holy vessel who shines brightly in a dark world. I love the words of Paul in Philippians 2:12-13, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose”. God has not made us personally responsible for producing holy character in ourselves. That would not be possible. We could, of course, temporarily create an appearance of holiness but unless there is an inner transformation that causes Christ-like character in our core being, our human attempts to appear holy will be nothing more than taping apples to an orange tree and claiming, “look, an apple tree!” Life flows from within. Holiness is produced by the inner presence of the Holy Spirit transforming our desires, our passions and adjusting our appetites for sin and righteousness.
Praise God for His promise, “Holy you will be because I am holy” 1 Peter 1:16.
My prayer for many years proved a dangerous one - Lord refine me like silver so you can see your reflection in me. Use whatever you need to make me like you.
Faith and trust are required before you pray the same. He will convict you and show you the thought patterns and practices that offend Him as He has done with me.
As I invited God to change me and to make me more like Him, my parents both had terminal illnesses diagnosed and Dad’s death coincided with the build-up of huge debts and the loss of everything I had through poor business decisions. This led me to realise that I didn’t really trust God. I did things my way, strived to achieve and even cut corners, allowing others to be deceived for my advantage. I did things that I was ashamed of in order to try to succeed in life, business and relationships. The root reason was that I didn’t truly think God loved me enough to provide for me and my family.
When you truly trust that God does love you and that He knows the best in all things and let Him guide your every decision and choice in life (even when those choices give up a financial gain or some temporary personal advantage or enjoyment) then you give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to change you.
As I spend more time with the Lord each morning and study His word, He shows me things that need to change and has removed the attraction of ungodly things. For example, I no longer use alcohol to relax, no longer watch films with violence and foul language - I realised I’d feel embarrassed if Jesus was sat with me. God is changing me as I draw closer to Him and I am motivated by wanting to please Him in the way I live.
What has God said to you through today’s promise?